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> Monday, March 7th, 2011 > Lifestyles > Junos going on 40
Junos going on 40
Bobby Foley and Baden Roth
Click here to read more Interrobang articles written by Bobby Foley and Baden Roth
Published: Monday, March 7th, 2011
The Juno Awards, Canada's mark of excellence in the industry of music, are by no means a very long-standing mark in Canadian history. Though this year marks the 40th annual celebration of the Awards, they're in fact fairly young among their ilk.
Awards and the concept of celebrating excellence in fair competition have been around since before we even adopted the modern ways we keep track of time; competitions like the ancient Olympic Games and medieval tournaments in the Middle Ages have seen athletes competing for prizes and honour for hundreds of years.
The Academy Awards, recently held at the Kodak Theatre in Los Angeles, has just celebrated its 83rd year. The Grammy Awards, though still older than the Junos, have only celebrated their 53rd year.
The point is that it hasn't been all that long since the Junos entered our lives and shone a light upon the talent that we have here in Canada. Funnily enough, they began very modestly as a readers poll in RPM Magazine in 1964, but evolved when mogul Walt Grealis worked with record label executive Stan Klees to turn the affair into a gala event.
The Gold Leaf Awards were born, and in February 1970, 250 people packed the St. Lawrence Hall to see 12 prestigious awards presented to the finest in Canadian music, like The Guess Who taking Best Group, or Gordon Lightfoot claiming Best Folk Artist.
As an aside, the Best Produced Middle-of-the-Road Album that year was "Which Way You Goin' Billy?" by The Poppy Family, big winners that night. Even record labels won awards back then, like RCA Victor winning Best Overall Record Company. Although whether that was better than Best Company for Canadian Content is up for debate.
The award was renamed for the very next year in honour of Pierre Juneau, not only the first head of the Canadian Radio–Television Commission, but also the driving force for the establishment of CanCon, the regulations requiring Canadian media to dedicate a certain percentage of their programming to Canadian artists. Juneau was further honoured in 1971 with the Canadian Music Industry Man of the Year award.
Obviously, the Awards have changed drastically from their humble beginnings so long ago. Now 40 years on, Canadian artists are far from predictable, perhaps one of the most apparent developments in the last 40 years; decades ago, artists like Anne Murray, Gordon Lightfoot and Stompin' Tom Connors would sweep the awards year after year, we now have real diversity to celebrate.
Canadian music is arguably the best-regarded it has ever been on a worldwide level — music hubs like Vancouver, Toronto and Montréal keep producing some of the best and brightest that the world has seen, and looking at the lineup for awards this year, that fact is not likely to change.